Photo Friday: Shooting From the Hip

Your eye doesn’t always have to be behind the camera to get a good shot.

I rather like this tight portrait of my son, and I shot it from about hip level as we were standing up. I just aimed the camera at him, he looked over at the camera, and I gave the camera half a second to focus then fired. No flash, just the available light the 50mm prime lens could capture indoors.

Really, Dad? Again with the camera?

"Really, Dad? Again with the camera?"

Note the narrow depth of field: the nearest part of his face is in focus but the edge of his right cheek is blurred. This lens gets down to a 1.8 f-stop, which is great for low light but can be hell on focusing from time to time. A good part of shooting from the hip is luck, as I was only able to partially reproduce a shot like this with my daughter despite several attempts.

That’s not to say it wasn’t worth a shot, especially with a digital camera where bad shots can be dumped on the fly.

No post processing on this. I really need to brush up on my post-proc workflow, but I just don’t have time. Some day…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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  1. I love playing with the post-processing, especially when the changes I make are subtle, as most the changes I make tend to be. I’ve been playing a lot with Photoshop ever since starting the 365 Self Portraits and continuing into this year’s 365 Days of Color.

    So…tell me why I’ll want a 50mm lens, in addition to the 18-105 and 70-300 that I intend to get.

    • Mike says:

      A 50mm lens is a great portrait lens because the low aperture gives you great control over depth of field: you can blur the background or bring it into focus, depending on the result you desire. I primarily use it for indoor shooting without a flash, though. It sacrifices some zoom capability, but because it’s such a fast lens it works great in low light. When I take pictures at karate events, for example, I just set a custom white balance and start shooting. I don’t need to try to time shots perfectly with the flash or wait for the flash to recharge between shots.